tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN July 1, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EDT
helped more than 300 kids stay off the streets and out of trouble. you remember we choose each of our cnn heroes from people you tell us about. to nominate someone you know who's making a big difference in your community go to cnn tonight, one of the hottest young stars out of hollywood. no, not that hollywood, hollywood in northern ireland. 22-year-old golfer rory mcilroy is the biggest thing in sports since a guy named tiger. a small town boy made good. now, can he help me with my game >> i'll do what i can, but i can't work miracles. >> u.s. open champion rory mcilroy in his first sitdown since that stunning victory. >> for me, i won a golf tournament and that was really the end of it. but, you know, it's a bigger story than that. >> and then one of the greatest tennis players in the history of the sport, billie jean king. how she felt when she beat bobby rigs in that battle. sexes. >> i still wake up in a cold
sweat thinking i have to play that match. oh, thank you, god. thank you for letting me win. >> the challenges she faced coming out. >> i didn't get comfortable in my own skin until i was probably 51. >> and my surprising connection with her. i was a ball boy at wimbledon. >> no way. >> this is "piers morgan tonight." we were talking about rory mcilroy's record-smashing victory at this year's u.s. open. he was 16 under par, the lowest score in tournament history. he's only 22 years old. rory mcilroy joins me now. rory, as a fellow irishman, thank you. >> you're welcome. >> for coming to america and beat them at their own game in their own backyard. >> yeah, it -- no, what can i say. it was -- it was one of the best weeks of my life. everything just sort of came together at the right time and, you know, it was a great win.
>> i mean to come to america and win the u.s. open is a feat very few ever achieve outside of america. what do you think it takes to be a winner? when it actually comes down to it, when you're entering that fourth day as you did, what is it that makes a champion compared to others who often fall by the wayside? >> yeah, i think i know more than anyone else from this year's masters, what happened to me, 95% of it is mental. to know that you're going out with the lead and knowing that if you stumble at all, you know, there's going to be someone that takes advantage of that. but, you know, you just know that everything is going to fall into place. you know that mentally you're in the right place. i was great mentally all week and that's what i needed to do. >> one thing i've learned about america and americans, and i love them for it, they don't like losing. how did they react to this young whippersnapper from ireland coming in and winning their
trophy? >> i felt as if the reception i got from the american people was very good. you know, i don't know if it was because of what happened at the masters and they wanted to see redemption or, you know, how they viewed it, but to go there and to win the u.s. open in front of, you know, in front of the u.s. fans was, you know, for me it was very special and it was special to win there. you know, the reception i got was so warm. it was just -- it was great to feel that from them. >> let me play a little clip now from the epic scene at the end, when you won and you ran to your father. let's watch this. >> another u.s. open champion from northern ireland, an unreal performance from rory mcilroy, the 2011 united states open champion. >> happy father's day.
>> very emotional scenes there. you won the u.s. open and you walked to your dad and you hug him and you say "happy father's day." i can't think of many greater father's day presents than that. how did your dad react to this? >> he was fantastic all week. he was a very calming influence to me. you know, having breakfast with him, you know, sort of talking about the day ahead, how i'm feeling. i feel as if -- i mean obviously a lot of sons are very close with their fathers, but i feel like i can say things to him that i couldn't say to anyone else. you know, he's always very positive. anyone that knows him will tell you that. just reassuring, saying everything is okay, you'll be fine, just keep doing what you're doing, and to be able to celebrate like that on father's day with him was very special. >> the traditional irish way of celebrating things is to go and get completely hammered. i hope you kept up this
tradition. >> yeah, i've had a couple of good nights out with my friends since i've been home. >> now, there is some conjecture about exactly what beer is your favorite. and this is mainly being caused by you, because depending on which interview you're going, you so far said heineken, corona and guinness. now, which is it? >> never guinness. >> never guinness? >> no. i think it's an acquired taste and i have still to acquire that taste. >> you don't like guinness? >> no, i'm not a big fan. not a bag fan. >> that's sacrilege. >> it would either be core na or heineken. >> a lot of people know there's been trouble in northern ireland over the years. growing up there, what was it like for you? >> personally i've never seen the violence. i grew up in a very quiet town called hollywood just outside belfast.
the only thing in terms of trouble was on tv, on the news. you know, i never experienced it firsthand, so i -- you know, if anyone ever asked me about northern ireland and the troubles, i mean i can't really say to them what it's like because i've never actually seen it, you know. so it's just -- it's a pity that these things are put on the news. i'd rather see northern ireland portrayed in a more positive light. >> it's a lot more peaceful there now. there's still incidents occasionally, but certainly when i grew up, it was a lot more violent. there seems to be a sense that northern ireland has come through that dark period. one of the reasons, i think, is that some of the sportsmen like yourself have been really excelling. do you feel that the weight of the expectation of the irish on your shoulders? >> a little bit, but i don't mind carrying that around with me, because if what i do on the golf course provides hope for the people of northern ireland, then i can't really do a much
better job than that. >> are you irish or british? or can you be both? >> it's hard. i'm northern irish. you know, i carry a united kingdom and a british passport. it's a hard one -- it's a hard one to sort of answer, because i've got my choice. i can play for ireland, i can play for great britain. it's a tough one. i mean it's -- and it's always going -- i'm always going to have to answer that and deal with that question because of where i grew up. you know, i regard myself as northern irish and that's all i can really say. >> that's probably the diplomatic answer, isn't it? >> yeah, it would have to be. >> did you have a tough upbringing, would you say? did you have much money as a family? >> no. no, not at all. my mom and dad worked very hard to give me the best chance not just in golf but in life. you know, i was an only child,
you know, my dad worked three jobs at one stage. my mom worked night shifts in a factory. >> what did they do? >> my dad was a bar manager and worked in separate places, you know, in the daytime and then in the night. and my mom worked in a factory that produced tape and sort of industrial goods and she worked night shift in there. so they worked very hard. and i -- being so young, you're sort of oblivious to it all, and it's only when you become a little older and a little wiser that you realize how much they sacrificed for you. >> it's been worth it, though, hasn't it? >> yeah, yeah. but if it wasn't for them, i wouldn't be -- probably wouldn't be sitting here talking to you. >> did you ever imagine when you were growing up and the other hollywood, the real one one day would be a place that would welcome you like a conquering hero? >> yeah, it's -- >> pretty surreal, isn't it? >> it is very surreal. i didn't realize the magnitude
that this win would -- i didn't realize how much my life would change even in the last ten days. >> what's it like, i can't even imagine. a young lad of 22. my son is nearly 18, so i look at you and i see this very young guy who seems remarkably calm, given you just exploded on the international sports scene. when you win the u.s. open in america, as i've seen, i've been out there when it happened, it's a huge story. hard to describe to people back in ireland or england what it's like for what's happened to you. it must have turned things upside down, isn't it? >> i didn't realize how much attention and focus was going to be on me after that. the amount of media requests. you know, just interviews, everything like that. you know, for me, i won a golf tournament and that was really the end of it, but it's a bigger story than that. >> is it exciting or slightly terrifying? >> no, it's exciting. i mean it's the reason that i practice for seven or eight
hours a day. there's no point in practicing for that long and getting to the point where you could win a major, you could become the best player in the world and to say, oh, no, i don't really want that. that's why i practice is to put myself in these positions. >> the other players, some of them have been playing for twice as long as you've been alive and they have to watch you come along. some great british players, never won a major, lee westwood, colin montgomery and others. you've done it at this ridiculously young age, been called the new tiger woods. how have they reacteded, the guys that have never won and tried so long to do so? >> they have been very positive. i feel as though i'm quite close to lee westwood. he's been one of the best players in the world for a number of years now. it just hasn't happened for him on that given week. the same as monty. monty had plenty of chances and didn't quite finish it off. i think it's a huge advantage for me to win a major so early and get that monkey off my back,
as they say, and focus on winning more majors. >> we'll have a short break. when we come back, i want to talk to you what it's line, apart from this fly buzzing around your head. if you had your 4 iron, you could swat it. i'll talk to you about the guy everyone is comparing you to, tiger woods. s s s s s s ] ♪ [ cat meows ] ♪ [ whistle ] ♪ [ cat meows ] ♪ [ ting! ] [ male announcer ] travelers can help you protect the things you care about and save money with multi-policy discounts. are you getting the coverage you need and the discounts you deserve? for an agent or quote, call 800-my-coverage or visit travelers.com. i thought i was invincible. i'm on an aspirin regimen now because i never want to feel that helplessness again.
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rory, lots of comparisons right now to you and tiger woods. famous footage of him at 3 years old smacking balls down the fairway. you were playing from the age of 18 months, if folklore is correct. do you see any parallels with tiger in terms of the way you play? >> yeah, i mean, you know, at 22 we both had one major. he won a couple more times than i have in my career. but i mean i have to let other people make comparisons, because if i go -- am trying to chase his records, i'll lose sight of what i need to do to actually win tournaments. you know, tiger is one of the best players, if not the best player to ever play the game, so -- >> there are people right now, proper experts, saying that you have the ability, the natural ability and you've now shown the mental strength to come back
from the masters where, to use sporting parlance, you slightly choked, if you don't mind me using that phrase. to come back and win the open after that proved to the experts that you have the mental agility too. they're saying, you know, you could have it all. you could go on and be the greatest champion that golf has ever seen. that's a lot of pressure, isn't it? >> it is. but at the end of the day that's what their -- they're only words. i have to go out and actually do it. they can say he could win 20 major championships, but, you know, at the end of the day i've only got one so it's out to me to go out and prove them right, if they are right. and not worry about that, but just try and focus on me and playing my best golf. if i can do that, records and wins and everything else should take care of themself. >> i suppose you've always showed a slight fearlessness about tiger. it was suggested that this was getting to him a bit, who is
this guy that isn't terrified of me. it is part of a thing in sports to not be in awe of people? >> yeah, of course. i don't want to feel inferior to any other golfer in the world. if you do that, then you're giving them an advantage right off the -- you know, right from the start. i mean -- obviously i respect everything that tiger has done and as a kid i was in awe of what he was doing. but, you know, i'm supposed to be a competitor of his now, so i can't be in awe of what he does or anything like that. all i have to do is focus on, again, on my game. he can do whatever he wants, but at the end of the day if i concentrate on me and i play my best golf, i know that sometimes, you know, if i do that, i'll come out on top. >> tiger obviously became one of the biggest sports icons in history, very, very quickly. a mercurial talent. a poster boy.
we know what happened next, his life came crashing down around him. a lot of it is under the huge pressure that he was under to be a huge superstar all the time. you're going to get a lot of the tiger-like attention, not just from the golf critiques, but you're a good-looking irishman with a tinkle in your eye. you're going to get all the girls and so on. do you think you have the strength of character to deal with it that ultimately tiger turned out not to have? >> i hope so. it's a tough one because as a golfer, you grow up and you -- all you're doing is trying to imagine winning tournaments and becoming the best golfer that you can be. but you don't realize everything else that goes along with that, the fame, the attention, and it's something that i'll just have to deal with. it's something that i feel tiger
managed it very well for a long time and it just -- it obviously just all sort of got to him. it's a very tough position to be in. >> it can be a lonely old world being a professional sportsman, particularly golfers. you're all touring all the time, flying around, staying in hotel rooms. you get a lot of attention from the groupies and so on. it's not a healthy way to live for relationships and stuff, is it? >> no, it's not. no, not at all. that's why a lot of the golfers travel with their families and with their wives. and you need a good team around you to keep you grounded and keep you in check with reality and keep a sense of perspective. you know, i feel as if i've got great parents. i've got a great family, got great friends. you know, i hope -- >> and a great girlfriend in holly, who's your childhood sweetheart. >> yeah. >> what does she make of what's happening to you?
>> she -- i think in a way it's tough on her. i'm getting all this attention. we've been together since we were 15 years old. we've had a couple of -- five or six-week breaks which, you know, you're going to have. but she knows he better than probably anyone else in the world. and she -- she keeps me very grounded. i mean she doesn't take any grief from me at all. >> not many women i know would like waking up to see the man in their life described as the next tiger woods right now. >> no, definitely not. no, but she's great. we're a very normal -- i'm trying to stay as normal as possible. i don't know what the next few years are going to bring, but we're a very normal couple. she still goes to university. she's trying to finish her degree. i'm obviously out playing golf and trying to win major championships. but, you know, we -- we see a lot of each other. and we have two dogs, live together, so it's --
>> so you've got a little family already. >> well, sort of, yeah. >> do you think wedding bells on the horizon here? >> no, not at the moment. holly needs to finish school first and get a degree and -- >> does it depend on how good a degree she gets? >> no, not at all. she's a lot more -- she's a lot smarter than i am. no, she's the brains of the couple. >> it must be surreal, though, for both of you. there you were ticking along quite nicely and your golf is getting better and better and winning tournaments, but this particular stage of your life, even you probably couldn't have foreseen what was going to happen. and there you are the both of you with two dogs having an attempt at a normal life. and yet in your mind you both must realize it's not going to be normal now. >> no, it's not. we're going to get attention, good and bad. but again, it's something that we're just going to have to learn to deal with. you know, it's amazing how life can change so quickly, and you've just got to adapt with the times.
>> let's take a little break. when we come back, i'm going to play a little message from a friend of yours, just to spice things up a bit. sweetie i think you need a little extra fiber in your diet. carol. fiber makes me sad. oh common. and how can you talk to me about fiber while you are eating a candy bar? you enjoy that. i am. [ male announcer ] fiber beyond recognition. fiber one.
congrats, what a display. enjoy. >> there's a message there from your great friend, graeme mcdowell, fellow irishman. even with him, you want to kill him on the kbaufl course? >> on the golf course, yeah. but off the course he's a great friend. >> he's a nice charming young man from ireland. very well polished shoes. and in you is a steely assassin on a golf course. where does that come from? where does it come from for you, do you think? where have you got that from? >> i think you need that. i feel as if i need that on the golf course. i need that cockiness, the self-belief, arrogance, swagger, whatever you want to call it, i need that on the golf course to bring the best out of myself. once i leave the golf course, that all gets left there. i just try to just turn into the
normal rory mcilroy that was brought up in hollywood, northern ireland. >> if you tried to go home to holly and the two dogs with the swagger and the arrogance and the cockiness, how would she react? >> probably with a slap from the back of her right hand. >> who are the sportsmen that you've most admired over the years? from any generation. who's most inspired you? >> i think for any golfer from my generation, watching tiger growing up and winning his major championships was a huge inspiration for me to believe that, you know, maybe one day i could go on to emulate what he's done. >> did he call you after the u.s. open? >> no, he left a message in the media center. >> saying what? >> just well done, great performance from start to finish. and that was basically it. but nowadays, i look up to rafael nadal. i've become pretty good friends with him over the last year. i just think the determination
and the focus and the intensity that he brings to the tennis court is incredible. it's nothing -- i've never seen anything like it before. >> the one really downside amid all this apparent perfection is you're a manchester united soccer fan, which is about as bad as life gets. but they have this great manager, he's a legend in europe. not that well known in america, but in terms of his leadership, is he someone that inspires you? >> yeah, definitely. i think especially with the crop of players that he had in the late '90s. you know, david beckham, gary nevel, ryan giggs. for all those players to be so loyal to him for so long, you know, it shows what a great leader he was. >> when you lost the masters and you had to wake up to all these headlines, rory chokes and so on
and so on, do you get depressed when that happens or do you have a side to you that just fires yourself up? did you sink into a kind of temporary oblivion of despair? >> no, if anything it made me more determined to go back and to prove to a lot of people, not just the media but just everyone and prove to myself as well that i wasn't this person that they were making me out to be in the press, you know, a choker or can't handle the pressure. you know, i was determined to go out and show them that that wasn't me. >> did you get any time to relax there? can you relax? >> a little bit, yeah. i tried to, you know. i think time off and time away from the game is nearly as important as the time, you know, that you practice, because if i played golf every day, i would -- you get stale and you become a little bit -- you go through the motions and it becomes a little bit tedious. but once you go away from the
game for a couple of weeks, you've got that freshness back and that hunger and determination to go and want to work hard in practice again. >> what do you like to do to completely take your mind off golf? what's the best escape route for you? >> i think to go and watch other sporting event. you know, wimbledon, boxing matches, i've got a fire side football picture that me and my mates play. >> do you ever read books? >> yeah. to be honest, i haven't read a book in probably a year. so i think it is something -- >> music, do you listen to music? >> music, yeah, i'm into music. >> what's on your ipod. >> i lot of dancy, sort of techno, swedish house mafia. yeah, i went to their concert in london about four weeks ago. >> i'm being told they're really big, you shouldn't act surprised. what's the big ambition for you personally and professionally?
>> personally, not to let all this attention that i'm going to probably get, not let that affect me in any way. professionally, i want to go on to win more major championships. i want to try to become the best golfer in the world. >> the best golfner history? >> yeah. >> is that now attainable to you, do you think? >> it would probably be -- >> well, let's put the rory mcilroy of the golf course, let's ask him that question along with the swagger, the cockiness, the arrogance, because i'm looking at a guy that just won the u.s. open who looks supremely chilled out by this. you know, i think you quietly believe you could go on to become one of the greats. >> yeah, i do, i do. but i don't really know if people want to hear that. i mean i believe that myself, yes. >> i like hearing it. i like sportsmen to exude chilling self confidence.
>> yeah, i mean i'm very -- i'm very confident in my own abilities. i believe in myself. yeah, i mean i said something a couple of days ago. i said i'm not playing for money, i'm playing for a place in history. and that's -- you know, that's really what i'm all about. >> rory, best of luck. >> thank you. >> congratulations again. you're the pride of ireland, of britain, anywhere you'd like to say, but we're all proud of you. >> thank you very much. back to the studio now for my interview with the woman who turned the tennis world upside down, billie jean king. soft! hard! soft! hard! [ male announcer ] how do you decide between crunchy and soft tacos? why don't we have both? [ male announcer ] old el paso. hard and soft tacos. ♪ feed your fiesta.
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billie jean king is not just one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, she's surely one of the greatest tennis players, period. one who changed the sport forever, and she joins me now. billie jean, this is a real honor for he. >> it's nice to meet you. you've been coming to wimbledon for years. >> i lived in wimbledon for five years. i was a ball boy at wimbledon. >> no way. >> i covered wimbledon magistrate's court during wimbledon fortnight when all these people were brought up for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. most importantly, my mother and grandmother who loved 10 tennis, used to religiously take me to watch the king, as you were known then. >> did you throw the ball to me? >> probably. i never got on the big courts where you were operating. >> no, i was on the outside courts.
>> i'm a lot older than i look. >> you look very young. one always wonders when they watch television. i'm 67. >> well, this is the most amazing thing. today is the -- well, this year is the 50th anniversary of your first wimbledon win. i find that extraordinary. >> and i haven't missed a year. >> is that right? >> i've gone every single year since '61. >> do you still play tennis? >> well, i got to a point, because i started having my first knee operation when i was 23 and i was number one in the world. my knees progressively got worse and worse. and so last year i got both knee -- i had knee replacement. >> how many surgeries have you had now. >> i've had eight on my knees. but i have this where it lasts 30 years as far as the testing, for 30 years performance. and i'm like why did i wait. i would have given anything -- >> it's really worked? >> i just played tennis the last two days out in central park in
new york city. >> really, just around the corner. >> yeah, yeah, because i live on the upper west side. so it's near and i go and it's so much fun. i'm so excited. i took where i had to take a taxi to the gym, which is two and a half blocks away, okay. and so now i can walk forever. i can go up and downstairs. >> when you play in central park, do you get anybody going by that say wait a second. >> yeah, i do. i had a little group watching. and then they go oh, she's probably not any good. >> are you good these days? >> no, terrible. i can still strike the ball well. my eyes are great. now that i can move and turn and run a little. >> i would challenge you -- >> oh, you'd beat me, i'm sure. >> i'd love to have on my record that i beat you but the last guy that challenged you, you beat his butt. >> vietnam was cooling down, watergate was heating up. women could not get a credit card on their own in the united states without a male signing off on it.
so a lot -- roe versus wade. a lot was happening. it was a very tumultuous time in our country. and then we'd also gotten title ix, which was june 23rd, 1972, where federal funds going to private or public high schools or college or universities would get equally spent on both genders for the first time. so, you know, i know if you live outside of the united states, it's huge. now we have more women at universities -- actually it's about 57% on the average are now women at the universities. >> and you, i have to say, very instrumental in changing the whole view of women's rights. forget just tennis or sports. >> no, it was visual, though. it was about men and women. everybody got so emotional about it. everybody was so emotional. men were emotional. i couldn't believe it. it brought out the worst and the best of everybody. i mean -- >> when he challenged you -- set the scene for me. >> we didn't have cable television then either. we didn't have anything like that. >> set the scene.
he's like this quite arrogant -- >> but he was a former number one. he won the triple crown at wimbledon and i absolutely loved him because he was one of my heroes. we had only started women's professional tennis in 1971, our first tour. so i kept saying bobby, we're in a tenuous position, go away. he kept coming back. so finally margaret court, who ended up being number one in '73, played him on mother's day. they call it the mother's day massacre because i think he won like 6-2, 6-1 or 6-1, 6-2. if you don't know anything about tennis, that's really bad. >> what were you thinking when that happened? >> when i found out, i was in japan. i got on and the flight attendant told me coming from japan. i said who won the match and she said riggs. i went oh, no, i'm going to have to play. it was a done deal. >> because you had to shut him up, right? >> so margaret took one for the team by losing. and she definitely teed it up
for the stage. it was on -- everybody was talking about it. it was in every -- i mean everybody. >> it was the battle of the sexes. this was the moment that women in america i think got empowered. >> they did actually. >> they turned down this bragart male sexist pig and you killed him, didn't you? >> well, he's one of the -- you know what's funny, i think i beat him because i respected him so much. >> when you beat him, how did that moment feel? >> such relief, thank you, god. i still wakeup in a cold sweat thinking i have to play that match. oh, thank you, god. thank you for letting me win. >> when you went out afterwards, what was the reaction from women in particular to what you'd done? >> i'd actually get half and half. because fathers -- men in their 40s and 50s and 60s now will come up to me daily with tears in their eyes because they have daughters. and they said that matched changed me. like obama, president obama saw it when he was, what, 12 or 13. he told me how that influenced him. >> really?
>> yes. now he has two daughters. yes. and they are the first generation of the men -- >> influenced him to do what? >> just to really think about always making sure his daughters or girls and women have opportunities just like boys. that he believes we should have equal everything, which is what i've been fighting for since i was 12 actually. i had an epiphany at 12. >> what was the epiphany. >> i was going to spend the rest of my life fighting for equal rights and opportunities for boys and girls, men and women. >> did something happen to spark that? >> i think it's because i got into ten is when i was 11 and i wanted to be number one right away. i'd found my life, my destiny. and i was out at the los angeles tennis club. it was a very quiet day and the sun was setting and there was nobody around. and i just -- i said, you know what, this game has white people, white clothes, white sox, white shoes, white balls, where is everybody else? that started. that was the beginning of my
thinking. then i started thinking about the world and society and just this is ridiculous. we all should have equal rights and opportunities. and that just came to that as a 12-year-old. and then i prayed that i would be number one, maybe i could have some influence and help make a difference before i'm out of here. >> hold that thought for a moment. i want to come back and talk about what many thought were a more seismic moment when in 1972 you made the cover of "sports illustrated" magazine. >> oh, that was big. >> bigger than wimbledon some said. ♪ it's the way you bring out the sun ♪ sunnyd! ♪ it's the way you make it all fun ♪
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billie jean, forget winning wimbledon. let's cut to "sports illustrated" magazine and the moment that you became the cover girl of "sports illustrated." that in itself created shock waves, didn't it? >> it did. it was the first time a woman ever got sportsman of the year and i shared it with the great late john wooden, who was the coach of the bruins, ucla bruins, in los angeles. so that was an honor just to be with him. because basketball was my first love, so him being a basketball coach i thought was great. usually i always shared covers with people in the beginning. i'm a person that got the door ajar and then the next time,
like chris evert was sportswoman or person of the year and she got the whole cover. >> chris has always called you the wisest woman she knows. >> really? >> which i thought was a great compliment. >> chris and i get along very well. and martina. we had like a trioca going. i said if anybody said anything bad about us, we come to each other. we don't let the media bait us, because they were always baiting you to get you upset with a different player. i said you guys, they're just baiting you so we're always going to be good to each other. you know what, the three of us, that really cemented it. of course my generation mentored their generation a lot. there's always a big influence on the second generation. by the third generation, it's a much more "me" type of generation. >> what was the hardest barrier for you to break down, do you think? >> i think for me, probably being gay, being a lesbian. i think that's probably been my toughest fight, because i grew up in a homophobic family.
although not now. i didn't get comfortable in my own skin until i was probably 51. >> what age were you when you came out? >> i was outed by marilyn barnett in '81, in which people say don't you think people should be outed and i say absolutely not. you should be able to come out on your own terms, in life and anything. so i thought -- >> how did it happen? >> well, i had this affair with marilyn barnett and she tried to sue me for money, what else? you know, it's money. so that was very difficult time. >> how did it make you feel that not only had you been sold down the river for cash, but you'd been outed to the world? you were hugely famous at that time. >> it was very hard on me because i lost all my money overnight. >> from what, endorsements? >> they left in 24 hours. they called me a slut and all kinds of things. and it was -- it was a terrible time in my life. but i also had to figure out how
am i going to -- how i'm going to live, because i was still married to larry king. not that larry king. >> i was going to say. >> you were number nine. >> yeah, i would have. and i had wanted a divorce for a long time. and finally we worked through it eventually and i got my divorce. ilana claus has been my partner for over 30 years now. so i'm really happy. but being comfortable in your own skin is really important. it was such an honor in a couple of years ago when i won the medal of freedom. and president obama is the first president that actually mentioned the lbgt community. and harvey milk who was assassinated in san francisco by dan white years ago and mayor mosconi was also assassinated. to have harvey milk finally get this medal of freedom, which was the highest civilian award you could get in our united states
of america. >> just playing back a little bit, when you were outed it was obviously a bruising, horrible experience for you. looking back on it, did its actually make your life better in the longer terms? >> in the long run, sure. because it got me going. >> why would you advise other people not to come out? >> because it's not right. it's a horrible feeling. you want to do it on your own terms. when people are ready. if you go to psychotherapy like i've been through a lot of therapy, they'll always tell you when you're ready you're ready. until someone's ready they're not. so you just have to be kind and good to people and they'll find their way. doesn't mean you don't talk to them personally or privately. i think it helps when a straight person says, are you gay? and i doesn't care if you are. and that really just sets the tone. like ah. but a lot of straight people are afraid to say anything. and i appreciate that, too. i thought i was straight for years. so i've been both places. so it's just important -- and everyone has the same challenges and problems.
that's what people don't realize. it's so interesting how people think oh, you have a different set of -- no. no. in relationships, it's so much the same. >> we'll take a short break. when we come back i want to know about the song elton john wrote for you. >> right. >> i like it. oh, we call it the bundler. let's say you need home and auto insurance. you give us your information once, online... [ whirring and beeping ] [ ding! ] and we give you a discount on both. sort of like two in one. how did you guys think of that? it just came to us. what? bundling and saving made easy. now, that's progressive. call or click today. is best absorbed in small continuous amounts. only one calcium supplement does that in one daily dose. new citracal slow release... continuously releases calcium plus d
right now my special guest billie jean king. in the break you are singing a song that elton john himself wrote in your honor. tell me about that. >> well, actually a lot of the people out here, too. they're all singing it to help us remember. >> so it was "philadelphia freedom". >> i played world team tennis for the philadelphia freedom the first year. elton used to come sit on the bench. ted hengley the designer from england made the uniform for us. we played a competition against bill cosby as well. he used to sit on the bench with our team. it's a co-ed team. that's actually my core business, world team tennis. so it's ironic because here we go. so anyway, we're going to a concert together. he said i want to write you a song. and of course i'm blurk by now. i thought he was teasing, right? joking. you must be joking. no, no, no, i'm serious. he said, what are we going to call it? i go, i don't know. i'm like so embarrassed by this
time. and he goes, how about philadelphia freedom that sn that would be great. i love that. i love philadelphia. good. it's iambic. whatever. i went hey that would be a great gift to the people of philadelphia. of course i'm playing team tennis for them which was a co-ed league so i'm thrilled. and so he wrote it. he brought a rough mix to our -- at the end of the year at the end of the season, i mean. and i had the whole philadelphia freedom team stand around in this dirty little dressing room, locker room, depends which country you're from, and he said, oh, i hope you like it. it was a rough mix. i loved it! first of all, he's been a friend since '73. this was '75. you're not kidding what an honor. when i go to any place in philadelphia, this is kind of like their anthem. a lot of people don't know the history. they think -- then don't know. then i tell them, they go, oh. we still have a philadelphia freedom world team tennis team
in philadelphia. >> have you stayed friends with elton? >> forever. >> have you seen his new baby yet? >> no. but my partner has. elana held him two weeks after zachary was born. i wasn't in l.a. so elana held him. >> when you watch modern female tennis, i went to see serena williams playing against some eastern european waif of a girl. it was barbaric. like going back to the old roman amphitheater. i spoke to serena at a party about this and she was chuck ling away. she goes i remember i destroyed her. i was like, wow. how would you have got on against women who are so physically powerful? >> this generation is so much better. my brother is 6'3". i needed to be taller, probably. but when you talk about serena, she could have been the greatest player of all-time if she would play consistently. but she's had so many other things she loves to do, which is
fine. venus, both of them are just tremendous. >> for you, finally, 50 years since your first -- what's been the greatest moment of your life? >> it depends. is it personal, is it career? i think winning 20 wimbledons was right up there. >> is there anything beat the first one? >> actually not. >> that moment you clutched the -- >> actually not. i like mixed doubles best. more than singles. for me winning doubles in 1961, my very first year and here we are 50 years later? i loved that moment. you have no idea how i think about that. we giggled our way through wimbledon. i had no through what was going on. karen kept telling me we could win. i'm thinking there's no way we could win. i never looked at the draw. she kept wanting me to look at the draw. i went over to look at the draw to keep her happy. i don't like looking at draws. i like taking one match at a time and never think ahead. she's going, oh, by can beat this team, we can beat that team.